Our Father hand position

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    Andres Ortiz

    I’ve seen 3 major hand positions for when we say the Our Father at Mass.

    – [b:1z2cmkxn]Hands folded[/b:1z2cmkxn]

    – [b:1z2cmkxn]Hands forward and arms open, no touching[/b:1z2cmkxn]

    – [b:1z2cmkxn]Holding hands with someone next to you[/b:1z2cmkxn] (2 varieties)
    — no hand squeeze at the end
    — hand squeeze

    Which one does your parish do? My current parish does hands straight forward and arms open, no touching, but my last one did holding hands.

    I’ve read that the Hebrews prayed with their arms open, a much more intimate way of praying than with our hands folded with everything pointing inward.

    What I’m curious about is why do most parishes do a radically different hand positioning for that one part of the Mass. Why don’t we pray that way during the entire Mass?



    I may not be the one to ask here, as I assist at Mass in either one of the Eastern Rites or the “extraordinary” or Latin Mass Rite. In the east the custom is to stand when one is in the presence of the King, therefore during most if not all of the liturgy people stand, (although many parishes have now added the modern invention of the pew, and people sit during parts of the liturgy.) Hands are either clasped in front of the chest, or at the side, or holding the prayers books. None of the Eastern Rite Catholic parishes I assist Mass at have any hand holding. In some they sing the Pater with either the priest or choir, but there is no swaying or hand holding as it is viewed as both a western and protestant custom, and most Eastern Catholics and Schismatic Orthodox feel they have been compelled to abandon their own customs and rites in the past and are unwilling to continue to have their liturgical customs erode away.

    In the Latin (traditional rite) people kneel for the Pater.

    As for positions of prayer among Jews now and in the ancient practice, standing was common, hand positions changed for various prayers, usually clasped in front of oneself, sometimes in prayers of petition they where held out shoulder width, in front of oneself.
    The Tallit, or prayer shawl was worn for morning services, and (starting around 800-900 AD) during the service of Kol Nidre, to commemorate the destruction of the first and second temples (later was added the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492) , all of which occured on Tisha B’Av*, or the ninth of Av, (Which usually falls around August-Sept on our calendar) was an evening service and the only time the Tallit was worn in the evening. Prayers where and are offered facing Jerusalem, when praying (also called davening) one sort of rocks back and forth, (Every head shall bow and knee shall bend) When one wishes to commune in private with the Almighty, (in morning services) one pulls the tallit over ones head both to block out distractions, and to express to those around you that you wish to commune with G-d. Back to the Kol Nidre for a moment, it is the only service in the Jewish liturgical year where you see anyone kneel. At the reproaches, or the climax of the service as the Cantor or Rabbi sings the prayer which recounts the sins we have commited in the past year that we are sorry for and the congregation responds their sorrow, the Cantor or Rabbi kneels before the Ark, which contains the Torah, or scrolls of the Law, after the doors are opened.

    *By the Jewish reckoning the First World War also started on Tisha B’Av. Some commemorate WWI too.



    We hold hand’s some people squeeze hands others don’t



    My church has a majority of the congregation holding hands. I don’t as I believe I’m at Mass to glorify God, that means I pray with a bowed head and keep in mind I’m a sinner.


    Andres Ortiz

    Subvet: could you explain a little more?



    Same as Weather’s.



    Jon, reading over the post I left I realize it was poorly written. To clarify it; I believe we’re in church to focus on God. Holding hands has always struck me as a distraction from that, kind of a touchy-feely exercise more designed to bring attention to ourselves and how we are “family” than anything else.

    Just my opinion. I could be as wrong as a football bat. In the grand scheme of things not too important anyway.



    [quote:2kazn44z]I don’t as I believe I’m at Mass to glorify God, that means I pray with a bowed head and keep in mind I’m a sinner.[/quote:2kazn44z]
    The Mass has been described by the Church as being offered to God for the following four ends:

    (1) To honor Him properly, and hence it is called Latreutical; (2) To thank Him for His favors, and hence it is called Eucharistical; (3) To appease Him, make Him due satisfaction for our sins, and to help the souls in Purgatory, and hence it is called Propitiatory; (4) To obtain all the graces necessary for us, and hence it is called Impetratory. (Catechism of Pope Pius X)

    Hopefully under the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI we will see balance restored to the Western Liturgy. The following is simply my opinion and does not carry with it any degree of infallibility. However the Catholic Church in my opinion is the most balanced of any religious system. Why, well I obviously believe that God founded and guides the Church. In being the founder and guide, and giving it the promise to remain with it, God has prevented the Apostasy of the Entire Body of Christ. While from time to time one aspect or the other of belief is given a greater emphasis, and there is danger of humans ignoring the fullness of the Faith, God has preserved us from having the Church officially teach error.

    Many “Liturgists” before and after the Second Vatican Council have tinkered with the Liturgy in order to put their own personal beliefs at the forefront of the Faith. Most of the problems in the Liturgy we see today are abuses of the Liturgy and not offically sanctioned by the proper authorities of the Church.

    As for the Mass and our Faith, I stated earlier that it is balanced. Why? First because we do not, or should not place excess emphasis of one aspect of Faith and ignore the rest. We know we are sinners, but we also must have hope in the Passion and Death of Christ being the source of our Salvation. We know the God grants pardon of our sins through the waters of Baptism, and the absolution of His priests. We know that when we assist at Mass we are mystically at the foot of the cross, and Jesus makes availible to us the graces of that day on Calvary through His actions on our behalf at each Mass.

    We are an “Easter People” but we do not ignore Holy Week and the Passion. Sinners, you betcha; Redemed by our Lord’s actions and our uniting ourselves to them, no doubt in my mind. Needful of paying attention to our Lord’s entire message, and not just “Claim Him” and become our own Pope, hard to do, but the way He set it up.



    Growing up it was also hand “in prayer formation” in front of you. When we got out here in Hawaii the parish held hands (some squeezed at the end, others didnt), at the post chapel it was some with folded hands others holding thier arms up. It was a tad interesting to say the least, but we went along. Apparently the military diocese has a rule on the proper hand position, so it seems there is no “standard”. I’m quite comfortable keeping it personal, but I’ve no problem holding hands in a community effort at appealing to our Lord. I do wish there was something in writing thought so we won’t get surprised at our next parish <img src=” title=”Smile” />

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